Pascal Van Cauwenberghe has written a great post on estimating business value, tying it into a feature-injection style template. I particularly like the idea of calculating business velocity, and showing value earned over cost on a visible chart.
Even though we know that cost accounting isn’t useful without looking at ROI, many companies still have this focus (how many people have had problems getting hold of sharpies because they’re "too expensive"? Coloured post-its? Free coffee?)
Perhaps by making the return on investment over time apparent to everyone, we can motivate the team, show the value we’re earning and gain the trust of the business at the same time.
As an aside, I remember one client where the deadline was very tight, but nobody wanted to work overtime or weekends. Our PM asked us if there was anything we’d like to have which would help us work more effectively. We asked for – and got – fresh fruit every day. The difference in our work – both the amount and quality – was noticeable! (We already felt very well respected, so I discount the placebo effect here).
It’s amazing how much difference a few pounds of expense can make.